The showpiece of the Festival, Friday’s main event may end up a procession however, with Al Boum Photo looking more and more likely to win three in a row. The Willie Mullins jewel has taken the same prep as usual, this time he won the Savills Chase at Tramore on NYD by 19 lengths. He looked as good as ever and whilst his rivals have been battling each other throughout the season, he has been at Closutton relaxing in his stable!
His closest rival in the betting is A Plus Tard, the Savills Chase winner at Leopardstown came on for his disappointing second at Navan in November. Henry De Bromhead will be hoping the extra distance won’t prove too much after it looked like he needed every yard of his run LTO.
Santini is an enigma and has had a very disappointing season so far, his neck second in this race last year has since seen him regress. He seems to save his big runs for Cheltenham though and his lazy style of racing seems to suit the Cheltenham circuit, you cannot rule him out.
Nicky Henderson also has Champ in the race, he hadn’t raced all season until the Game Spirit (over 2m) but he looked sublime in his running and seemed to benefit from a front-running ride. If he can replicate that in the big, and we know he can stay the distance then he becomes a major, major player in the JP McManus colours.
A really interesting one is Royal Pagaille, three ultra-impressive wins in seven weeks has seen the unknown become a major player in the Gold Cup market. Trainer, Venetia Williams, has tempered expectations but the manner of victory so far has been very impressive and one that has installed him as third favourite in the best jumps race of the season. He is still a novice over fences and owner Rich Ricci has Monkfish in the Novice Chase so a crack at the Gold Cup may well be on the cards.
Other horses for serious consideration are fans favourites Frodon and Native River, both of whom have been in the Winners Enclosure again this season and enter this race in peak condition. The blue riband contest of jumps racing is usually fiercely competitive, let’s hope this year is a great renewal.
There are no 2021 Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup runners at this time. Please check back later or view other races.
This race has seen some wonderful stories created; Vautour, Cue Card, Uxizandre and Un De Sceux just to name a few have a place in many race-goers' hearts.
Last years' winner, Frodon (6/1), led by Bryony Frost, landed a magnificent story for her and Paul Nicholls last year and will most certainly be hoping to bring the house down again this year.
A win in the Silviniaco Conti Chase over Top Notch gave connections a much needed boost ahead of the big day.
Min (3/1), who has been beaten by Altior in each of his last three races at the Festival, seems to be best suited to 2m4f nowadays racking up three wins from four when running over the distance, he may finally break his Cheltenham duck for Willie Mullins should he be entered here.
Mullins will also run Duc Des Genievres (25/1) in the race, the winner of last year's Arkle has since raced five times and hasn't entered the Winners Enclosure.
A Plus Tard (9/4) was sensational when beating Chacun Pour Soi in December and looks one of the main players here.
He still has entries for this race and the Champion Chase, but a red-hot Champion Chase may persuade Henry De Bromhead to target here for the Chevley Park Stud stayer.
Rachael Blackmore steered him to a 16L victory in last year's Close Brothers and she will be in the saddle again for more of the same.
Rider Onthe Storm (7/1) rather fortuitously accounted for Cyrname in an incident-packed Betfair Chase, it wasn't the greatest of victories given that Traffic Fluide seemed to be closing before sadly falling.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has done a wonderful job with him, however, he joined the stable on a mark of 140 and now sits on 162, it remains to be seen how much that effort will have taken out of him come race day.
|Chris's Dream||26.00 25/1 2500|
|Elegant Escape||51.00 50/1 5000|
|Real Steel||34.00 33/1 3300|
|Monalee||26.00 25/1 2500|
|Presenting Percy||12.00 11/1 1100|
|Kemboy||8.00 7/1 700|
|Clan Des Obeaux||8.00 7/1 700|
|Santini||4.50 7/2 350|
|Delta Work||5.50 9/2 450|
|Lostintranslation||7.00 6/1 600|
|Bristol De Mai||26.00 25/1 2500|
|Al Boum Photo||4.50 7/2 350|
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